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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Escape to the Coast

This was a  last-minute trip; it was on the eve of a big heat wave in Portland, and our office is really poorly air-conditioned, so if I wanted to get any work done I needed to get the hell out of town. I found this place on Expedia around 8 pm, and was surprised a hotel this nice could be this cheap.  And apparently you could bring a pet!  I tossed Big Orange and my laptop into the car, and off we went.

Forgive me if this post sounds like an ad for the Adrift Hotel in Long Beach, but I was really, really happy to find this place.  I have a (mostly irrational) fear of upholstery and carpet in hotel rooms: I can’t stop myself wondering what nastiness they’ve absorbed over time that I can’t see.  But this place was all hard, spare, Ikea-looking surfaces.   The only fabrics in the whole room were the sheets on the bed and the bathroom towels.  I could not have been more at ease.   And the cleaner they use left the room smelling like orange oil.  Awesome.

Big Orange likes to burrow whenever he’s frightened or nervous, so the moment I let him out of his crate in the hotel room he shot up under the bedsheets.

The Adrift’s restaurant is on the top floor, with a killer view, a stereo playing jazz standards from the 40s (perfect background music for the melancholy lone diner who wants to imagine he is sophisticated and glamorous), and $5 whiskey gingers at happy hour.

So this is the Discovery Trail, which runs from the ocean in Long Beach across the Peninsula to the bay in Ilwaco .  The only time I ever left the hotel was go for a walk along this for a couple of hours in the evening.

Columbia River around 7:30 AM, on the way back to Portland on Saturday.

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What’s for dinner, Andrew?

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Pesto tofu salad sandwich with arugula and mushrooms sauteed with thyme,

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gazpacho with heirloom tomatoes,

and a gin sunset.  (Gin because tequila makes me sick.  Sunset because references to the morning are depressing when you’re dealing with liquor.  Half a bottle of grenadine because that’s how I roll.)

Four Things I Have Been Known to Say in Dead Seriousness to No One in Particular about the Weather.

4. “So…so let me just get this straight.  So I pay my taxes and I obey the laws and I give the bums on the street a dollar when I have one, and this — this is what I get in return?  This is bullshit.  I hope the troops don’t know that this is what they’re dying for, cause this is fucking bullshit.”

3.  “This is funny.  This is really fucking funny.  It is so FUCKING FUNNY that Portland thinks I will put up with 88 degrees in fucking APRIL.  So fucking funny.  Well, you know what else is funny?  Me leaving this city and moving to some tiny town in Alaska where it’s never warmer than 60 degrees.  Oh, you don’t think I would do that, do you?  Well, I WILL fucking do that SO FAST it will make your head spin A FULL 88 FUCKING DEGREES.  I will pay TWICE AS MUCH for groceries and fend off invading moose and live half my life in TOTAL DARKNESS just to get away from Portland.  I WILL.  That’s how BULLSHITTY this bullshit it.  Let’s see how livable this town is without my bitchiness to temper all of the free-flowing hipster self-importance.  YOU SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH — I am not self important in the LEAST, and this whole town is going to turn into a SHIT SHOW the very instant I am no longer here to make it awesome.  MARK MY WORDS.  MARK THEM.”

2.  “You know, we didn’t get any snow in December, and I was fine with that.  Fine.  A little disappointed?  Sure.  But I didn’t make a big thing about it, you know?  Just took it in stride.  Figured my positive attitude would pay off come summertime.  But I guess the world just decided to take my magnanimity and stab me in the eye with it.  That’s nice.  Definitely not a big stinking pile of bullshit, no sir.”

1.  “HUH. I GUESS PORTLAND’S JUST UP AND TURNED INTO BANGKOK NOW.   WELL, ALL I’VE GOT TO SAY ABOUT THAT IS THAT THERE HAD BETTER DAMN WELL BE SOME TONED SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD BOYS OUTSIDE READY TO TAKE ME UP THE ASS FOR TEN BUCKS,  OR ELSE THIS IS SOME BULL FUCKING SHIT RIGHT HERE.”

ELK.

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These are all pretty blurry, but elk are a big fucking deal to me, and the small handful of times I’ve seen them I haven’t had my camera, so I’m excited just to have any photos at all.

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And I had to cheat even to get these. These aren’t elk I just happened upon in the wild; these are elk on a state-sponsored elk preserve outside of Astoria.  (As many things as there are about Oregon that annoy me, it is hard to dislike a state in which you can drive less than two hours from home and be pretty much guaranteed to see your third favorite animal after moose and beavers.)

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But you still have to show up at the right time if you want to see them.  Elk only come out of the woods at night, so if you want a decent photo you’ve got to show up at dawn or in the evening.

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To put this effort in perspective, consider that I almost hit not one, but two deer on my way back into Portland.  You have to seek out elk in remote locations at special times of day; deer are basically throwing themselves at you on the highway.

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So Elk are awesome, clearly.  But a byproduct of this trip was renewing my appreciation for the awesomeness of Astoria.   It’s been about a year since I was last there, but damn, if I were forced to live anywhere in Oregon but Portland, I would pick Astoria over Eugene, Bend, and every single Portland suburb.  I don’t care if it’s smaller; it’s so dense and urbane that it feels bigger than any of those places, and what it may lack in size it more than makes up for in charm.  It’s basically the Savannah of the Northwest.  And — AND! — I saw a sea lion by the docks downtown on this last visit — just hanging out like it were no big deal.  Even Savannah can’t touch that.

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